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For Arizona State senior pitcher Marissa Schuld, the March 25-27 series against Arizona wasn’t just a rivalry game, it was a chance to show her former team what it’s missing.
Since Schuld was in middle school, she had been committed to Arizona. Going into college, she believed she belonged in the pitching circle. During her freshman year at UA in 2019, she pitched 14.2 innings and had an ERA of 0.48. However, Schuld only pitched three innings the following year.
The Tempe native decided to enter the transfer portal and move back up to the Valley for more pitching opportunities.
“This was one of my dream schools growing up,” Schuld said in a press conference ahead of the 2022 season. “I’m happy to be back home.”
Schuld, like most softball players, knew the team from having played club ball in Phoenix. Her familiarity and relationships became a huge selling point in her decision.
“I’ve played with (Alynah Torres) since I was probably 12; she’s been a big impact on my career,” Schuld said. “We feed off each other. If we’re struggling we both know what to say. Every day when I was in Tucson, we would FaceTime and she would tell me how great of a time she was having.”
Since transferring to Arizona State, Schuld has produced. She led the pitching staff with an ERA of 1.07 going into Sunday matchup against Oregon. In the final game of that series, Schuld pitched five innings, allowing three earned runs. ASU has the fourth-best ERA in the Pac-12, behind UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford.
“I think we all feed off each other really well,” Schuld said. “We can all take criticism from each other, and (ask) ‘Hey, what’s working for you?’ (Coach Trisha Ford and I) worked hard on working on my spin and understanding pitching, not just throwing to throw. I really wanted to follow her process of everything.”
Against her former team, Schuld took care of business. While she only pitched the final three innings of the first game, she only allowed one hit and secured the win.
Schuld started in the Sunday game against the Wildcats, a game that coach Trisha Ford knew could be challenging for an exhausted team on the road.
“I saved her for Sunday because Sunday is usually a gut game,” Ford said. “There was some added emotion with Marissa, and I knew the team was going to play hard for her. We made some tremendous plays; everything kind of lined up.”
She pitched a perfect game that ended as a five-inning, 8-0 run-rule win.
“It felt really good, especially against that team,” Schuld said. “I have a lot of respect for that team and those coaches, but I obviously didn’t have the best time there, so to come back and do business felt good, especially having my team behind my back.”
Senior catcher Jessica Puk and the team realized what was about to happen in the final inning.
“She has a different kind of drive and fight that you don’t see often in pitchers,” Puk said. “I hadn’t realized it until the bottom of the fifth inning with the last two outs; it clicked for everyone. Throughout the game, we were so dialed in it hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind.
“Once (Makenna) Harper caught that final out in left field and we all sprinted in, that moment was special. I had never caught a perfect game (before).”
Being in the Pac-12, ASU’s conference schedule is loaded. The conference has five teams ranked in the top-25 of the NFCA poll, including Arizona State. Oregon State and Stanford are just outside with the second and fourth most votes, respectively.
All of the games against ranked Pac-12 opponents except UCLA are on the road.
“Every weekend, there’s someone new where you are like ‘Man, they’re good,’ but that’s why you play in the Pac,” Ford said.
This weekend, Schuld and the Sun Devils faced No. 14 Oregon and swept their third straight Pac-12 series. It is the second straight road Pac-12 series in which ASU upset its opponent.
An early-season tournament in Texas had the team prepared for inclement weather in hostile territory.
“We went to Texas this year and it was 30 degrees and raining,” Ford said. “Hopefully, us going through some of those bumps earlier in the season will help us with conference play.”
Schuld and the Sun Devils will return to Tempe against Utah for a three-game series from April 14-16.